Local leaders, elected officials, developers and partners joined in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of Casa de Rosas (Brian W. Carter/L.A. Sentinel)

The historic campus is one of the more recent developments addressing L.A.’s homeless crisis.

“This was work that took years to do and I get to be here and cut the ribbon,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.

On Thursday, March 30, local leaders, collaborators and elected officials joined in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of Casa de Rosas, a newly renovated, award-winning, historic campus developed for formerly, homeless veterans.

Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker of Ward Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) hosted the event with speakers that included Bass, L.A. Councilman Curren Price, USC President Carol Folt, along with a representative from the office of L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, developers and partners including Vicki Wilbon, new Casa de Rosa residents and their families.

Located in the Ninth Council District in the city of Los Angeles, Casa de Rosas dates back to 1895. Originally, Casa De Rosas was an innovative experiment in childcare, having been reported to be one of the first private kindergartens.

Throughout the passage of time, it would serve as preparatory campus for young women entering college, an inn and restaurant, a military barracks during World War II and the headquarters of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics Foundation, before becoming vacant until the end of World War II.

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In the 1950s, Essie Binkley West purchased and converted the campus to Sunshine Mission, a shelter for homeless women that operated through the early 2000s. The WEDC/Integral team was awarded the opportunity to develop this historic site that has been in disrepair for approximately 10 years. The event also marks a step toward addressing the region’s critical housing and employment needs.

From left are USC President Carol Folt, Mayor Karen Bass and Councilmember Curren Price Jr. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

“I think you could see today, as I started to talk, it finally hit me that we’re here,” said Dupont-Walker. “The battle is not over, we have so much to do, but to get to this point and finally see some families come in means so much.”

“This specific location has been renovated to a state-of-the-art living facility, so we’re just very excited,” said Price.

He continued, “It’s very important, homelessness is a big issue in our community and especially with our veterans. So, this is a property that will be targeted for our veterans to make sure they have the kind of resources they need especially after providing great service to our country.”

“And the idea that they would be on the street is just unconscionable to me,” said Bass. “It was my pleasure and honor.”

Bass continued, “If I could do this every morning, it wouldn’t be enough. So, it is wonderful to be here to cut the ribbon on housing for people who have served our country.

Mayor Bass commends Dupont-Walker on spearheading the renovation of the project. (E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel)

The 29,900 square-foot complex is now home for 36 veteran families targeting the unique needs of single-parenting, career goal setting, job development, and a menu of supportive services in a permanent supportive housing environment.

The grounds include courtyards and fruit trees lining the sidewalks. This unique community is greatly enhanced by the presence of an onsite daycare operated by USC School for Early Childhood Education/Head Start.

“It gives me a reason to keep going,” said Dupont-Walker. “Sometimes in the middle the struggle, you wonder why am I doing this because the system that says it wants to help seem to be your worst enemy, but this gives me a reason to go to the next level.”